Monday, August 14, 2017

FAIR 2017 Recap ~ After the Final Elephant Ear

Oh my corn, I’m tired. I slept for 7 hours last night – 2 more than I’ve averaged the last ten days. I also took a little nap shortened by stupid technology ringing and buzzing. But I have rested very well today. And I happily ate a lemon chicken Lean Cuisine for lunch and had some whole wheat spaghetti for dinner. No cravings for anything fried or greasy or covered in sugar. Go figure.

In between time spent zoned out on the couch, I de-Faired the house a bit, restocked my Fair drawer with freshly laundered Fair Swag, and vegged with a Netflix documentary about the questionability of Herbalife.

For some reason I am always surprised how much fun stuff
I accumulate during the Fair.  Almost all of this now has a
home elsewhere in the house.

I also helped diagnose our molasses internet speed with a nice technician from CenturyLink. Thanks to some replaced connectors and ditching Mircrosoft’s cloud that I didn’t realize I was unnecessarily using, we are now zipping along faster than we ever have here at Woodhaven. Whoo hoo! If only I had thought to have Steve come out before the Fair and soooo many uploaded photos...

When we first moved to Woodhaven 13 years ago, we had dial up.  So
believe me when I tell you we are super duper excited to be going this fast!


I still haven’t quite put my finger on why I was so emotional last night. Or, well, more emotional than I typically am as my favorite time of the year draws to a close.

Maybe I’m just getting more sentimental in my silver-haired years. Or maybe there’s more to escape from these days so the respite felt that much more escapey (I highly recommend taking a ten-day hiatus from the news. It was quite refreshing. However, re-entry was a bit rocky.)

I do know that this year's Fair felt a bit different. There was a damper on the energy and pulse of the Fairgrounds until the final three days. It was like the volume had been muted. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a fantastic time every day. But it just felt off.

Attendance was super low for a good chunk of the Fair, with one day reportedly only about 30% of what it should have been. Yikes. Vendors were getting worried. And because there wasn’t much else to do, speculations started swirling about who and what might change in the Fair’s front office in the coming weeks or months.

But then something happened.

The temperatures cooled down, the hazy skies cleared, motorsports arrived in the Grandstands, and the people finally came. Apparently Day 9 – the night we saw Tuff Trucks in Grandstands smushed to capacity – was the highest attendance, food sales, and ride sales at the Fair EVER. Day 10 felt record-breaking as well.

Maybe that’s why I cried so much yesterday. It finally felt totally and completely like My Fair, peopled and crowded and noisy. Sort of odd for an introvert to be craving that. But perhpas I love my Fair so much, it makes me sad if there aren’t lots of other people there to enjoy it, too.


Too bad Sleep Number doesn’t make couches
I don’t specifically remember saying this a few years ago but Rob does. Apparently I revealed that I felt sort of lonely and abandoned in our living room each Fairing night typing on my laptop at 2:00, 3:00, sometimes 4:00 in the morning while Rob wisely and appropriately slept in our bedroom.

This year, without announcing or explaining, Rob stayed awake with me most nights until at least 1:00am. I wasn't sure why but I was too focused on writing to ask.

Somewhere around Day 4, he asked if I would still feel lonely if he slept on the couch while I typed in a nearby recliner. A lightbulb went off and my love and appreciation for him deepened even more.

For the rest of the Fair, Rob slept on the couch as I typed away, keeping me company just by his presence. When I was thanking him through tears in the Food Court last night for Fairing with me with such support and fullness, my gratitude covered a lot of ground. Good Lord, I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have him as my husband AND my Fair Buddy.

Best Fair Buddy EVER!



You should see what he can do with duct tape
Prior to the Fair starting, I was trying to figure out an easier way to carry my water bottle. I have a holder on a shoulder strap but I was already going to be wearing a back pack; I didn’t want to be strapped down even more.

I mentioned my dilemma to Rob the night before Day 1. A bit later he asked me to hold two fingers out as he placed a plastic straw on them.

“Thanks. I’ll be back.”

If you live with an engineer, you learn pretty quickly not to dwell on or question moments like these. You can almost hear your engineer’s wheels turning and you know a creatively designed solution to your stated problem will reveal itself in due time.

And so it did.

I carried my water around like this the entire Fair. The straw provided some cushioning and the string allow me to hold other things in my hand while still securing my bottle.

I bought this bottle for the Fair because it had
a flip cap.  Impressively, the cap stayed
attached all 10 days!  Granted by only one
hunk of plastic now but still!

As expected, Rob already has some design changes he plans to implement. This year’s Fair was merely the beta test.


A little goes a long way
Several months ago, our pastor spoke about making a concerted effort to notice and thank people who are serving us. People who are cleaning bathrooms or stocking grocery shelves or delivering mail.

Rob and I never talked about it – and still haven’t – but I noticed that we both went out of our way throughout the Fair to speak our appreciation to those around us.

We thanked some teen girls on Day 2 who were hauling huge carts of trash in 95-degree heat.

We told other teens who were wiping down Food Court tables how much we appreciated them keeping things so clean.

We told the Dock Dogs announcer how well he does his job.

We thanked a Fair Board member for serving and helping to create such a rich experience.

We expressed appreciation and wonder for a Fair Court coordinator who did an amazing job keep up with and sometimes ran ahead of the Princesses and Queen.

We rolled down our car window to tell a parking lot attendant we saw every night how much fun she was with her lighted baton dancing to direct traffic.

In each and every case, the people we thanked were caught a bit by surprise. I could almost see them stand a little taller with a spirit that almost literally lifted them up.

It is powerful stuff, encouragement. In every single instance, Rob and I were sincerely speaking our hearts. The only difference was we were actually speaking instead of just thinking. I gotta admit, it was sort of addicting. I highly recommend it.

Her name is Sherrie and she was a hoot!



She should totally enter it in a fair somewhere
You may remember that back on Day 1, my friend John who mans the Mt Hood Territory Tourism van boothy thing shared some of his wife’s banana bread with me.

I am not one to turn down food, especially and particularly during Fair. However, if I’m honest, I accepted the small piece mostly to be polite because, well, my great-grandmother’s banana bread recipe is amazing and I’ve never had banana bread that I like better.

Enter Michelle.

As I savored the little hunk of banana bready heaven, I sent up an apology to Great Grandma Edna. Michelle’s recipe is now the one by which I shall measure all future banana breads.

Her bread was fluffier and a touch moister and she rocked my baking world by not greasing and flouring the pan, but greasing and sugaring the pan. What?!?! Yes, little granules of sugar dotted the crust to add some lightly crunchy texture and a tiny hint of extra sweetness.

And speaking of extra sweetness, when John reported back to Michelle my appreciation (obsession?) with her banana bread, she took the time to write out the recipe and send it with John a couple of days later. I was so touched!

Handwritten recipes are rather dear to me. Although I am not much of a cook, I treasure the recipes in my box that are handwritten by other people. The time, the care, the sharing all mean so much to me. I have recipes written by my mom, my grandma, my sister-in-law, dear friends from church, and now Michelle.

As soon as I recover and have some appropriately ripe bananas, I am going to give this recipe a try. I pray I do it justice.

The secret might be sour cream.  And someone who isn't
a disaster in the kitchen.  I'm a little worried that Michelle's
recipe includes so many white ingredients.  And two with
"baking" in their names.  I'm either going to have a great
loaf of bread or a great story.  Stay tuned!



STATS

Number of miles walked:
31.9 miles or 76,580 steps over nine days of Fairing. That works out to an average of 3.5 miles or 8,509 steps per day. I’m actually pretty pleased with that and extremely grateful my ACL healed up well from all the physical therapy I forced on it. Just for comparison, today’s mileage as of 7:30pm is 24 steps. Ahhh, Netflix.

Number of miles driven:
309.7 freaking miles. It never occurred to me until this year to factor gas mileage into our Fairing budget. Yikes!

Preferred sunscreen: I am not really a fan of spray sunscreen but I decided to give this stuff from WalMart a try when Consumer Reports rated it as some of the best. I gotta admit, it worked great. I didn’t get any redness and only a little color from 9 full days in the sun. Downsides were I felt like I was coated in a light, tacky glue for a few minutes, and I had to spray myself in the garage to avoid spraying the glue on everything in our bedroom. I won’t wear this stuff daily but for long exposures to the sun, it’s actually some of the best stuff I’ve ever used. Go WalMart?

With "Sport" in the name, I
can also pretend I'm athletic
when I use it.


Fairwell

And so I guess that’s it. Fair 2017 is now fully blogged and photographed and now I shall sleep, eat salads, and wait 354 more days until I can do it all over again.

Thank you for joining me, laughing with me, laughing at me, shaking your head in amusement and wonder, and simply for reading. I love my Fair deeply and I love being able to share it. Thank you for whatever time you invested -- minutes or hours -- in letting me tell you all about My Love of Fair.

I will be back in this space again soon sharing whatever non-Fairing life adventures strikes my heart and humor to ramble on about.


FAIR 2017 ~ Day 10

Well, here we are. The last day of my beloved Fair. And the last night I’ll be staying up until the wee hours trying to capture it in words so that I can remember the sun and warmth and elephant ears in the midst of the cold and rain and rice cakes later in the year.

We really didn’t do much today. We just wandered around, talked to friends, soaked it all in hoping to make the Fair Glow last just a little bit longer.

Chatting with friends who were also at the Fair pretty much every day, I realized it is an alternate universe for all of us Fair Freaks.

The Fair is an escape from reality. The rest of the world and life stops for ten blissful days. The employees and vendors and entertainers become very familiar faces if not friends. Fair becomes a verb. We Fair every day from when we wake up to when we finally collapse at night. We pause to do laundry because we have favorite Fair clothes but otherwise, if it doesn’t happen at the Fair it doesn’t exist.

I never went to summer camp – aside from a week-long day camp on an island in the San Francisco Bay which I’m pretty sure doesn’t count. I think Rob nailed it a few days ago when he described Fairing as my version of going to summer camp each year. There are traditions and people and a culture that define the Fair experience. I long to return each year to capture and relive the sweet, wholesome, escapist life in a bubble.

So with that back drop, it should not surprise anyone that I sat on a bench near the Dock Dogs at about 6:00pm tonight and started to cry as the stage was being dismantled.

And teared up in the Food Court as I was thanking Rob for Fairing so willingly and so supportively with me all ten days.

And wiped more tears away while waiting in the milkshake line for the last time. I was overwhelmed by the simple delight of being surrounded by Fairing. I listened to teen girls giggle about boys and smiled as families negotiated treats and watched an array of game prizes saunter down the midway in the glow of the sunset giving way to neon lights. All through tears of sadness and joy, gratitude and exhaustion.

Most years I just cry in the car as we are heading home – which I did, too – but for some reason this year the tears came early and often. I haven’t been able to tease apart yet why this year was somehow different. Perhaps some sleep and sensible calories will give some insight.



The Goodbye Parade

My wistful mood was also fueled by seeing icons of the Fair leave for the last time. Seriously, next year I need to remember to bring Kleenex on Day 10.

Bob and Cathy leaving the Llama Greenway

Dave and Linda heading towards the Green Gate


Magician Adam the Great disappearing through the Blue Gate

Dock Dog Champion Conchiti and family sprinting for
the Blue Gate

Our friend John (who's wife Michelle made the glorious
banana bread. I've mentioned her banana bread, right?).
John's van usually has an awning.  The fact he's topless
suggests it's time for John to go home. 



The Fair Court Farewell
Dedicated readers might recall that my Day 10 Fair Recap historically includes a summary of the day’s competition for the next Fair Court.

In the past I have attended the contestant speeches; evaluated the naturalness of modeling dress-up horsewoman outfits and answering spontaneous questions; judged the warp speediness of the rodeo-hand-wave-while-on-a-horse skill every Fair Court Princess must possess; and otherwise made a completely uninformed and totally novice decree about whom I believe should be the next year’s Fair Court Princesses and eventual Queen.

Over the years I have assigned myself the role of Fair Court Enthusiast and Benevolent Stalker. I’ve become friends with some of the adults in charge so that they know I truly am safe and benevolent and not nearly as creepy as my enthusiasm and photo taking might suggest.

This all advanced to an entirely new level last year when one of my favorite teenagers whom I have watched grow up in our church competed for the Fair Court and eventually became Queen. WHOO HOO QUEEN MADDIE!

Over the year, I’ve had a chance to check in with (stalk in the pews) Queen Maddie to try to get a peek into the real world of Fair Court Queen Life. Let me tell you, it’s a whole bunch more work than it looks. And it looks pretty busy.

It was a life of very early mornings in rollers, lots of horse trailer hauling, multiple wardrobe changes, lots of smiling, and presenting a much more girly, feminine image than any of the three young women were used to. All of them have grown up with brothers and horses; acrylic fingernails and eyelash extensions and soooo much hairspray were never part of their worlds.

Maddie and the other two girls on the Court were going pretty much non-stop during the ten days of the Fair. It is the busiest time of their reign…but reportedly also the most fun. Which probably made it a little hard to say good-bye and see it all end tonight.

Maddie is the crier of the group and thus was using her
purple envelope to fan her eyes to try to keep the tears
from streaming too hard.

I asked Queen Maddie about her plans for her non-royal life. Within the next several days she is getting her rodeo queen hair cut quite a bit shorter, the nails are coming off, the lashes will molt in their own time, and she is scheduled for a massage on Tuesday. Also, as of 5:30pm tonight she was allowed to have a boyfriend. Fortunately, a nice guy named Austin just happened to be nearby and eager to fill the role.

They look pretty cozy for only dating for 8 minutes.

Having been personal friends with a Fair Court Queen, I realized I probably wouldn't have the same enthusiasm for future Fair Courts. I kinda feel like I got to peek behind the curtain with Maddie…which filled my stalker heart with such joy you don’t even know.

Then I found out that the Fair Court Contestant Speeches and Modeling would take place today right in the middle of church (yes, not many but a few things do take priority over Fairing).

After much mulling over some yakisoba noodles and a Smasher, I decided the time has come to close the chapter on my Fair Court Stalking. It has been super fun, I’ve made some fantastic friends, and I’ve gotten some pretty fun photos.

No, I do not have a radiation burn. I was waiting under Stan's red
tent for my Smasher when I realized the Fair Court was signing
autographs right behind me.  Score!


Thanks so much for embracing my quirkiness over the years and not reporting me to the authorities, Fair Court People! You ROCK!


STATS

Number of miles walked: 3.1 miles or 7,506 steps. Rob’s step tracker says he got 3.5 miles. I’m guessing the extra mileage came from all his work helping to move the llama obstacles to the trailer when it was time to start breaking down the Llama Greenway. Seeing the obstacles get packed up didn't make me all that sad to be honest.

Re-entry stamp animal: A delightfully happy little dancing pig with a curly tail that was a smear of blue by the time we got home.

Number of friends we saw: 20 including the entire Royal Family: Queen Maddie, her parents, her three brothers, and some grandparents. Maddie is very well supported and deeply loved by her subjects.

Number of times we saw Dave and Linda: 3

Best freebie of the day: I’m not sure why or how I’ve acquired so much free stuff this year but I’m not complaining. We were sitting on the benches near the Dock Dogs after the final dog had made the final jump of the Fair. The announcer was starting to disassemble his booth and collected a stack of t-shirts that hadn’t been given away. Not wanting to pack them to the next fair, he wandered around the area where some of us were just lounging and handed out shirts. I’m thinking it will make a great pulling-weeds-and-dead-heading-roses shirt.

Two years old from an event 125 miles away?
Free is a very good price.  And the graphic is cool.


THE FINAL FAIR FOOD FEAST PARADE
This happens every year and it confounds me. Somehow my stomach and appetite know that the party is coming to end and they start to close up shop on Day 10. I was just not as hungry today and really wanted a salad or a fruit smoothie.

This is why I love doing my 10 Days of No Food Rules; by the end I am reminded that my body likes my rules and I’m really not all that tempted to break them the other 354 days of the year. But August 3, 2018, watch out!

Teriyaki rice bowl from Sweet Al's. Soooo much better
than the awful rice bowl from several days ago.  I should
have added more teriyaki sauce to this but I didn't want to miss
the horsey show.

Grape and Cinnamon Hawaiian Shave Ice.  Sooo tasty!
The Ice Jockey said she had never heard of this combo
until today...and I was the second to order it.

Celebratory Deluxe Elephant Ear from the Malt Shoppe
next to the Milkshake Barn.  Strawberries, ice cream, and
whipping cream on sugary, cinnomony fried dough
goodness. Epitome of The Fair and our traditional
Last Day treat.  Rob ate it with me.  Not a crumb was left.

Farewll NW Berry Smasher.  Good golly, I'm going to miss
these.  Great news is that Stan said he had a very good year
here with all the heat so he will be back next year!

My Last Supper:  smoked mac and cheese with bacon from
Big E's BBQ.  I had it earlier in the Fair and quite enjoyed
it. However this version was clumpy and mushy and the bacon
was little remnants like Bac-o-Bits.  I only ate about half of it.
Rob and I have concluded that getting food at the Fair on the
last day after 6:00pm is a gamble.  Many of the vendors are
trying to get rid of stuff and starting to prep for leaving so
they might not put their best effort into the food.  Boo.




Sunday, August 13, 2017

FAIR 2017 ~ Day 9

It was a 13 hour day at the Fair today…and it’s already tomorrow…so let’s jump right in.


I should have quit while I was ahead
Our earlier-than-normal arrival around 10am this morning was because I was in the line-up to compete in the Open Class Llamas (and alpacas) Obstacles competition. Or, more correctly, to be the comic relief since I only have the vaguest idea what I’m doing despite competing almost every year. Without much call in my non-Fair life to make a camelid back his way through a slalom of fake Christmas trees or trot through a kiddie pool of water, whatever meager skills I do have get very rusty very fast.

We were told to be in the Llama Greenway by 11am. Accordingly, the Obstacles competition didn’t start until about 1:30pm because as every 4-H mom knows, Animal Showings at the Fair exist in their own dimension of time.

I didn’t fumble way through the course until about 2:00pm. Ribbons were presented somewhere around 5:30pm. So we spent a good chunk of our day hanging out in the Llama Greenway with occasional forays to get snacks or cool down in the Big Air Conditioned Building.

My assigned animal to coax through the obstacle course was Napoleon the Alpaca. He and I rocked the Llama Greenway when we last obstacled together a few years ago. Much to everyone’s shock and disbelief – especially mine – we took first place that year.

Ah, 2014.  I remember it well.  The ribbon
I mean.  Sadly I forgot how I got it.

Because of that inexplicable showing, Napoleon forever advanced to the next class. No longer a “novice” animal, he is now considered an “advanced” animal regardless of the experience or aptitude of his handler. Consider this foreshadowing.

During the run-through of the ten tasks we were to convince our animals to perform, I panicked right away because Task 1 required me to put a halter on Napoleon. And I don’t mean one of those unfortunate triangular tops I used to wear in the ‘70s when I had nothing to halt. I mean the strappy muzzle-like thing that you put on an animal’s face so you can attach a lead rope to it and be lulled into believing you are in control. (More foreshadowing.)

Briefing complete, I hunted down Shannon to learn how to perform this very basic but totally unfamiliar aspect of Life with Livestock. She demonstrated haltering and made it look sooo easy. Because she is 29 and has at least 15 years of experience and lots of ribbons in primary colors from Living with Livestock.

When it was my turn to practice, I alternated between almost strangling poor Napoleon with the lead rope, covering his eyes with the halter straps, forcing his nose in the wrong and much smaller gaps, and otherwise solidifying my role to bring laughter to the show ring.

Haltering is not meant to be a snuggly activity.

Fearing I would quickly forget what little I had grasped of my new halter skills, I took my turn in the ring as early as I could.

I haltered well enough (YAY!) but couldn’t for the life of me convince Napoleon to go backwards (BOO!). The best I could persuade him to maneuver was sideways into various trees and wooden boards. There was lots to reset on the course when I was done with it.

Another obstacle was supposed to demonstrate the animal’s ability to smoothly change pace from walking to trotting to walking again. However, I forgot the “smoothly” part and intentionally and with great effect stopped at each transition. I got a few points only because I didn’t knock anything over.

I did mediocre on the rest of the course. I was proud of my knee for being able to crouch through a teepee of boards and for being able to amble over some jumps that Napoleon was nice enough to accompany me on. He refused to join me in the kiddie pool of water which was his loss since it was quite refreshing.

When it was time for ribbons, I made sure I was ready to step forward right away since I figured my name would be among the first called. Nailed it!

Out of ten Open Class Advanced Adults, I came in tenth place. Yep, the team that won first place three years ago came in last place this year. While Napoleon may be advanced, clearly his handler was not. But hey, at least it’s still a blue ribbon, right?

Not everyone knows that once you get into the higher numbers,
the ribbon colors are pastel.  I happen to know that very well.
In other news, SO SAD the ribbons no longer have llama heads
on them.  That used to make them super fun regardless of the color.


Most were males in the 18-30 age range
The big event in the Grandstands tonight was Tuff Trucks. It’s where contestants race their trucks or jeeps or minivans (yes) through a dirt track of obstacles. Things like big bumps and mud that get the vehicles dirty and ideally make them catch some air if not roll over.

It used to be that Tuff Trucks was only a one-day attraction at the Fair. However, this year it was expanded to two days (yesterday and today).

All the contestants are all local people who bring their own cars to compete for the $1000 prize. And in our county, there were so many yokels who wanted to redneck their way around a dirt track last year, the Fair had to turn some away. So, this year it was goodbye Rodeo Night and hello second night of Tuff Trucks.

Tonight’s 7:00pm event was the final show of four Tuff Trucks competitions this year. Would there be enough interest to attract a crowd for four shows? Especially this year with embarrassingly low attendance?

We have never seen the Grandstands so packed.

All 7,500 of us were asked to get a little cozier with our neighbors to make room for more people to sit. There were people standing on the fringes. We didn’t get our favorite seats with backrests because they were gone 90 minutes before the show started. It’s quite possible that Tuff Trucks single-handedly redeemed the overall Fair attendance this year.

And I totally get it.

Within the first 15 minutes of the 90-minute show, one truck had buried itself in the mud, another had stood on its nose before falling over, and another had flipped and still managed to continue the race.

I'm pretty impressed by old iPhone managed to capture this
shot, albeit with some filtering to be able to actually see it.

The crowd cheered wildly every time we saw a vehicle’s underside or a tire popped from landing too hard. While the drivers’ goal was to complete the course as fast as possible, the audience’s goal was destruction. It was all ridiculously exciting. I sprung off my inflatable seat cushion any number of times to cheer the demise of yet another mud-covered rig.

The driver was fine but muddy.  Very very muddy.

And in a few of those moments, when I was yelling so loudly my throat hurt yet I could barely hear myself over the other cheers around me, I wondered exactly when I became so redneck.

Don’t get me wrong, I still quite enjoy a bold Cabernet while listening to Frank Sinatra. But somewhere along the line I also started being highly entertained watching cowtown folk play in mud and dirt and hearing tires and radiators pop and witnessing cars crash and flip in real life like they used to on CHiPs (but without the fire and slo-mo camera work).

Rest assured, despite my evolving redneckness, I promise to stay away from halters of the unfortunate variety.



STATS

Number of miles walked: 4.7 miles or 11,207 steps. I’m in the Green Zone!


Re-entry stamp animal: A blue blob vaguely in the shape of a rooster that I got when I walked my wet specific-for-the-occasion shoes out to the car after my obstacle fail.

Number of friends we saw: 17 including Matthew from our Youth Group who was celebrating his 13th birthday. He got to choose what to do for his birthday and he chose the Fair. Clearly his parents are raising him right.

Number of times we saw Dave and Linda: 1

Best joke of the day: As were waiting far too long for our breakfast, we noticed someone before us had killed time by doodling on the Daily Schedule. They left it behind on the table. Not sure if it was by accident or if it was to spread some fowl humor. Either way, it was a great way to start the day.


Most entertaining attraction not on the schedule: Mole watching. There was a mole that kept trying to make an appearance in the Llama Show Ring and in the process kept creating holes that could be dangerous to a llama or alpaca foot. During the lunch break, the mole reappeared. One sturdy woman stepped on the hole and several of us heard crunching noises. Ewww. But then the dirt started to move indicating that our mole may be broken but not defeated. This evolved (devolved?) into a growing crowd of us staring at the dirt waiting to see if the mole would pop its head up. One teen girl was ready with a plastic bucket; one teen boy started digging to try to grab the elusive mole until a knowing adult from the edge of the ring mentioned moles have very sharp teeth. Eventually the show had to start and fortunately no camelid feet were lost along the way.

The crowd started with just two of us. Plus the Cruncher.


FAIR FOOD FEAST PARADE
I couldn’t figure out this evening why I just wasn’t as hungry today. It seemed like a light Feasting day for some reason. Then I remembered I had had breakfast. That’ll teach me.

Chocolate milk!  The right brand!  So happy!

Scrambled eggs for breakfast, doused with ketchup and
Tabasco sauce. Mmm!  From the Lions Booth since I
am boycotting the other breakfast place because their
BBQ chicken sucked.

Miniature bar of Hershey's Dark Chocolate from a Farmer's
Insurance booth we stopped at to meet a Youth Group kid's
mom in person.  She offered me chocolate so we are now BFFs.

MexiDog from Dogville.  Hot dog with nacho cheese sauce,
salsa, sour cream, and jalapenos.  It was tasty but it was a
disaster to eat.  Also, more than 12 hours later I was
still burping MexiDog.  Not recommended. (The burping
or the messy hot dog.)

See?  Disaster.  It might have held together better if they
had toasted the bun.  As it was, all the liquid made it
fall apart pretty quickly.

Pear Peach and Pineapple Smasher!  

Sneaking the last of my white cheddar popcorn.  Such a
wonderful burst of salt!

Strawberry Cookies 'n Cream milkshake in
the Llama Greenway to celebrate my
(pastel) blue ribbon!

Poutine!  I had these last year and was quite
pleased.  Still good this year!  French fries
smothered in gravy and cheese curds.  I didn't
quite finish it (about half is gone in this pic).

Strawberry Pineapple Smasher!  I sure do
like pineapple.  And Smashers.

Once again I was craving a chocolate chip cookie.  Got this
chocolate covered donut from the new donut truck instead.
It was ok not great.  The maple one was better.  I liked the
chewy texture but there was a weird meaty flavor I couldn't
figure out.  Hopefully it wasn't the MexiDog.


Friday, August 11, 2017

FAIR 2017 ~ Day 8

Last year, because of my rehabbing knee and desire to take better care of myself, Rob and I only went to the Fair eight of the ten days. Those two days allowed a reset of sorts so that I could fully enjoy my most favorite time of the year. And boy did I!

I was thinking we might do the same this year, skip two undetermined days. I even pre-bought only eight sets of discounted tickets in an effort to force my frugal self to take a couple breathers.

As we were driving home last night, I was tired but happy. I told Rob that assuming I got to bed by my currently normal and ridiculous time of 3:00am, I would be ready to Fair again today. So far no days had been skipped with only three left. Go me and my super star knee!!

I crawled into bed this morning at 2:24am. I woke up at 8:15am. I took an unexpected nap at about 10am. At about 12:30pm, I took a deep breath, assessed my current exhaustion and raspy throat from the still-smoky air, considered our early starts the next two days, and reviewed my calendar of post-Fair activities I want to be conscious enough to enjoy. I reluctantly made the call.

“I think we need to stay home today.”

I posted an announcement on my Facebook page since I have been littering all my friends’ newsfeeds with blog updates, photos, and Instagram posts all week. I knew there would be confusion – or perhaps relief – if I went dark one day without explanation.

Among the reactions were five “WOW” emojis from stunned friends and one “LOVE” emoji from a childhood friend who annually expresses her concern about my approach to All Fair All the Time. We are the same age but in some ways she’s clearly more of a grown-up than I am.

I also got comments such as “the sky is falling, the sky is falling!” and “Everything OK?” and “whaaaat?” My dear cousin who lives in Montana even posted a photo of himself eating a delectable looking “Huckleberry Lemondairy” to keep the Fair Food Feasting going in my absence. He is such a sweetie!

Oh to have been able to join you, Tucker!
That looks and sounds amazing!

I’ve popped back into Facebook Land throughout the day, in between lunch, laundry, and yet another nap. I’ve enjoyed posts from a few friends who are Fairing today.

But I must admit, I had a hard time seeing the Fair go on without me. While I know I did the right/mature/boring thing to stay home today, a big part of me hates that I’m missing out on llama fun and milkshakes and 4-H pig shows and a midway FINALLY filled as it should be of happy fairgoers.

Never fear, I will be back tomorrow! And Sunday! Even if I have to pay full price to get in.


STATS

Number of miles walked: 0.2 mile or 431 steps…only because the laundry room is on the other side of the house.

Re-entry stamp animal: Because my husband totally gets me, he asked for my left arm before we left Woodhaven for lunch. He then flipped it over, uncapped a Sharpie, and drew what he intended to be a cat on the inside of my wrist. The fact that it looks more like a cyclops turtle is not the point.

Perhaps an Ultra Fine Sharpie would have
produced a more cat-like result?  It's adorable
either way...and likely to last longer than
last night's squirrel.


Number of friends we saw: 2 black fuzzy fur kids who seemed relieved to finally have their favorite laps back.

Best freebie of the day: A t-shirt from Burgerville (tasty Pacific Northwest burger chain) advertising the seasonal favorite: Walla Walla onion rings. All the employees were wearing the shirts. After we placed our lunch order at the counter, I asked Tisha if they were for sale. “No, but I can give you one for free.” It’s amazing what can happen if you just ask.




FAIR FOOD FEAST PARADE
Two basic meals without any snacks. I would have had some snacks if there were any in the house...and I had been awake.

Burgerville for lunch!  Salad with balsamic vinaigrette,
marionberry lemonade, and two of Rob's
five Walla Walla onion rings.  Mmm and mmm!

Dinner:  Frozen deep dish sausage pizza
from Chicago (bought in bulk, they are less than
$20 per pie and totally worth it), some limey
bubble water, and my favorite bartender.




FAIR 2017 ~ Day 7

People! They finally came! The people finally came to the Fair!

Granted it wasn’t until the evening in time for the Demolition Derby, but I will take it. It was sooo wonderful to sit in the Grandstands and pound my feet on the metal floor with several thousand of my dearest Fair Fans. Such glorious, Fair-filled music to my ears!

I loved exiting the Grandstands after the derby and being deposited into crowds of Fairgoers that I had to dodge as we were walking around. I haven’t been dodging anything except sleep and indigestion all week.

What a wonderful night.

PEOPLE!


If only the finale had been all the models out on stage clapping for Grandma Carol
When we were eyeing the sewing display yesterday, I noticed an exhibit I had never seen before. It was a small stage about three feet tall with a track in it. Above it was a sign that said “Doll Fashion Show.”

Sitting on the stage was a sign indicating the schedule for four shows held during the Fair. I immediately informed Rob we would be attending the one today at 1:00pm.

Milkshake in hand, we arrived 10 minutes early in order to get front row seats. I anticipated much to photograph.

By the time the audience had reached its apex, we had about ten people joining us including two reluctant husbands, three kids, and one extremely enthusiastic older lady who was supposed to be working the canning exhibit across the way. She would occasionally trot over in her apron to get a closer look or shout a word or two of approval from behind the green beans.

When it was finally show time, a middle-aged woman with long hair that had just gotten stuck in a fan (nasty knot) took the microphone and explained the excitement that awaited us.

A lady named Grandma Carol had made all of the outfits we were about to see. Many were from patterns but some were her own creations. The stage was built by her husband, who sat off to the side with love and support of his wife’s hobby. He was also at the ready to jump into action should his track malfunction and start flinging fashionably dressed dolls into the audience. (Spoiler alert: all dolls behaved appropriately. Boo.)

The red velvet curtain opened. I was immediately mesmerized by a jauntily dressed doll standing on a wooden platform that made a loop on the stage along a motorized track. She was introduced as an American Girl doll with a name, an ethnicity, and a bio.


Fortunately, thanks to some much younger cousins, I have some vague awareness of the American Girl doll phenomenon. Years ago, I was introduced to one such doll with much formality. I started to laugh at the cuteness of my cousin’s make-believe, not yet understanding the intensity of the American Girl culture.

When I noticed neither my aunt nor my grandma were laughing with me and instead were actually giving me the stink eye for disrespecting the newest member of our family, I quickly understood American Girl dolls with their outfits and accessories and stores and caf├ęs are a VERY BIG DEAL. Why? I had no idea. Just looked like you basic everyday generically-faced doll to me. But I astutely realized I needed to keep my smirks to myself and was probably not going to be invited to any tea parties any time soon.

Back to the fashion show.

It featured about 25 American Girl dolls, all introduced with backgrounds about their families, their hobbies, their causes. We learned one doll is very concerned about water pollution and the destruction of the coral reefs. Another had a stutter (unconfirmed since she silently waved to the audience) and was trying to raise awareness about various disabilities. Some dolls were very good students, others struggled with spending too much time on their sports and ignoring their studies.

Our eco-advocate.  I have a video of her, too, but with my molasses
DSL connection, imagine Kailey smoothly gliding across the stage
with an ever-so-slight whirring noise.

The girls and mothers around me murmured excitedly when a doll they knew appeared on stage. With their scripted personalities and histories, the dolls seemed oddly real to the kids. Even some of the moms were buying in.

Apparently “Game On” isn’t the only exhibit with virtual reality at the Fair?

I snapped this photo because I have that
same mixer!  I presume she's a better cook.

Rob and I watched the entire show. We were both impressed by the stage catwalk mechanism. If we hadn’t been rushing to the afternoon Demolition Derby show, I fully expect we would have lingered to chat with Mr. Grandma Carol to learn more about how he created the stage.

We also both agreed that as hokey as the fashion show was, it was also adorable and silly and perfectly Fair.

Oh, and this was the finale:

We learned that when an American Boy doll is needed,
the customary solution is to cut the hair of an
American Girl doll.  Because short hair is for boys dontcha know.

Women drivers
Demolition Derby is always my favorite day of the Fair. I just adore watching grown-ups play bumper cars with real cars with real metal and real radiators that might blow.

The afternoon show was much more lively than typical. Usually the drivers hold back a little since they still want to be around to participate in the evening show. But today we got to see something we had never seen in any demolition derby round before: a car flipped over in the ring. Sometimes they flip over when they get pushed up against the dirt barrier, but it takes just the right conditions to get a car to flip like this in the mud. It was awesome!

The driver was not hurt.  In fact, he scurried out through the back
window pretty easily.


Tonight’s show was historic (for us) as well. For the first time ever, we saw a female driver win the derby. Wow!! Women demo drivers aren’t unusual; there is typically at least one in every derby and her presence is always made known by the announcer.

From the derbies we’ve watched, though, the women are usually among the first few cars to stall out. They typically end up watching the bulk of the derby from their suddenly inoperable vehicles. Whether it’s inexperience or timidness or something else, it seems women derby drivers are often not quite aggressive enough to take home the big money and bragging rights.

But tonight, a woman was the last man standing. She and her pink helmet chased around an orange Passat until she pushed it up on a berm and clinched the win. By the time she emerged from her smushed silver Toyota, the crowd (including us) was on its feet cheering louder than I have heard in a long time.

FAIR! FAIR!! FAIR!!!

YOU GO, GIRL!



STATS

Number of miles walked: 3.0 miles or 7,171 steps. It felt like at least half a mile more.

Re-entry stamp animal: The most perfectly stamped happy little squirrel. No square edges, no uneven lines, absolutely perfect. I was going to take a picture of it but by the time we got home, all the deep fat frying oil seeping out of my pores caused the ink to bleed. Now I have a blurry squirrel that looks about the same whether I have my glasses on or not.

Number of friends we saw: 9. Clearly most of our friends come early during Fair week and only come once. I love them anyway.

Number of times we saw Dave: 1

Number of times we saw Linda: 0. I'm guessing she was working on the jigsaw puzzle.

Best freebie I’ve acquired so far (aside from pieces of John’s wife’s banana bread): These stylin’ purple plastic sunglasses from Metro PCS. I got them for simply answering 5 questions about my cellular telephone needs. OK, maybe they weren’t completely free but aren’t they snazzy?

I'm going to guess these don't have UV protection.
But they are purple!


FAIR FOOD FEAST PARADE
It was a very good food day, although I’m getting a bit miffed at the Church Ladies.

We tried a new place today!  The Chuck Wagon just inside
the Green Gate.  This corn dog was the same as what is
offered at the Lion's Booth but this one was cooked better -
slightly more crispy on the outside.  Rob liked his burger, too.
We will eat here again!

Marionberry milkshake!  Mmmm!  For those unfamiliar
with marionberries, they were developed in the 1950s
in Marion County near Portland.  They taste like a cross
between a blackberry and a raspberry.  Sort of a tart
blackberry.  And delicious as a milkshake.
In other news, check out the ridiculously short line
for the milkshake barn.  This Fair has been soooo
weirdly under-attended!

My afternoon Smasher.  Strawberry Mango.  This is not
on the menu but it should be.

Still eating my white cheddar popcorn.  In real life, the
closest I get to this is white cheddar rice cakes.
This is clearly so very much better.

A delicious Lime-Cinnamon Hawaiian Shave Ice made by
the owner himself.  He makes the best ones.  And boy do I
like the Cinnamon!  Apparently what I don't like is
photobombers.

This was a very tasty piece of rhubarb pie from the Church
Ladies Pie Booth.  Unfortunately what I ordered was a piece
of strawberry rhubarb.  Ladies, this is the second time in a
row you have given me the wrong food.  I only get to eat
like this once a year so I make my choices carefully.  I
haven't decided yet if I am going to boycott you or triple
check my order before I dive in.  Either way, thanks for
the two forks.  They made for more efficient consumption
of the wrong piece of pie. 

My evening Smasher.  NW Berry Pineapple.
This is not on the menu but it should be.

So deeply happy with my yakisoba noodles from Patrick's
Hawaiian Cafe.  I was thinking about them all day.
As I type this at 2:00am, my tummy is grumbling and
make its point that I really should have given it one more
treat before we headed home tonight.  But what I was craving was
a chocolate chip cookie and I couldn't think of where I might
find one at the Fair.  Boo.